What really stands out about the so-called sub-cultures today is the total absence of guys in general, and straight guys specifically. It's 99% girls, whether straight, bi, lesbian, or otherwise. There are a few token gay guys and trannies, but even those demos are mostly absent. Actual straight guys, though, have totally checked out of sub-cultural communities.
It's revealing that the labels for today's main sub-cultures contain the word "girls" -- e-girls and alt-girls. That's no accident -- there's no such thing as e-boys or alt-guys. Before, sub-cultures had gender-neutral names because their membership included both in roughly equal numbers -- scene, emo, goth, grunge, punk, rave, new wave, metal, disco, etc.
I live in thrift stores, and I've never seen a guy who was "an alt-girl, only the guy version". Never see them in used media stores, or any other stores, in parks, loitering in parking lots, waiting outside clubs or bars, or walking down the main drag on Saturday afternoon or night with the actually existing alt-girls. Finding alt-girls in those places is perfectly ordinary, and they often hang out in groups (same-sex, though).
Can you imagine going to a mall in the 2000s, and only seeing girls at the Hot Topic, with literally zero emo guys anywhere to be seen? Or a goth dance club in the '80s, and there's only goth girls, no goth guys at all? This may be unprecedented in sub-cultural history.
"Guys who have social links to alt-girls" does not constitute being a member of their sub-culture. The guys have to clearly identify their membership badges -- certain hairstyles, clothing, shoes, slang and shibboleths, haunts outside the home, and so on and so forth.
Just like with the emo guys from the 2000s -- same severe side part as the girls, with the bangs threatening to cover the eyes, same skinny jeans, same predominantly black and white color palette, same style of tattoos if old enough, same iPod playlists (My Chemical Romance, Paramore, etc.), same use of "sick" to mean cool, same hang-out spots (the mall, Hot Topic especially). When you saw a group of them, they were clearly members of the same sub-culture, just a male and a female version.
Why does it matter anyway? Because a sub-culture must foster further social-emotional development, the most universal kind being courtship, dating, mating, and perhaps family formation. People want to date others who are fairly similar to themselves culturally, rather than having to date outside their group. If the scene is large enough, and mixed-sex, then there's no problem dating your own kind. That's true for other kinds of sub-cultures like a religious sect.
That was still common with the emo/scene kids in the late 2000s -- check YouTube for "emo couple 2008" or whatever, and you'll see plenty of vignettes of emo bf + emo gf holding each other, looking into each other's eyes, and the usual mushy stuff. Only they were sporting his-and-hers severe side parts, his-and-hers skinny jeans, sharing a pair of earbuds to listen to Fall Out Boy, etc.
With today's single-gender sub-culture, the girls must necessarily look for potential crushes, bfs, and husbands outside of their cultural group. Only it's worse than it sounds -- it's not just that guys have abandoned a specific sub-culture, like the e-girl / alt-girl crowd. They've dropped out altogether. It's not as though there's some other sub-culture that does have guys, that the alt-girls can find boyfriends from.
Skater bros are not much of a sub-culture anymore, with a clearly identifiable look, slang, music and other cultural preferences, and so on, the way that punks or grunge guys or emos did in their heyday. Nor do stoners, which was never much of a sub-culture anyway, but they're even less distinct culturally these days.
So, the alt-girls would have to go outside of sub-cultures altogether, maybe to the jocks or preps or whatever else there is. Aside from that cultural divide being too wide for long-term relationships to last, those guys don't hang out in public either -- they too are busy staying home, plugging their brain into the digital matrix, and ignoring girls IRL (which they rationalize by not wanting to run afoul of the Horny Police).
This seismic change really struck me lately as I've been browsing Alt TikTok compilations on YouTube. There are no guys in them, and the few who do appear are mostly gays or trannies.
"Where are the e-boys who supposedly sport similar styles as the e-girls, but only in the guys' version?" "Where are the guys who are trying to one-up the other guys within their sub-culture, trying to lead by example, teaching their fellow guys where to go or how to behave in order to be cool, or whatever other role they're playing in the Alt community?"
The videos that YouTube's algorithm recommends after viewing Alt TikTok compilations do not feature straight guys either, but again gays and trannies.
It's not because the alt-girls are lesbians, and the would-be alt-guys feel they would not be welcome -- most are indeed straight, although with more bi and lesbian girls than the nation at large.
And how could guys get the impression that alt-girls don't want male attention and interaction? They're leaving the home, not staying holed up. They're lounging around public spaces, not scurrying from one place to another all business-like. They could not be displaying themselves in a more attention-getting fashion, and in ways meant to show off their girly cuteness -- big hair, make-up, belly-baring crop tops, leg-revealing skirts, knee-high boots... it's obvious.
Yet, where are the guys who they're hoping to see in these places, styled in a similar way? They're AWOL, barricading themselves at home, cocooning in online activity, and even then in corners of online that are 99% girl-free (video games, porn streams, Twitch chats, weird Twitter circles, and the like).
This is unlike earlier times, when only nerds and drop-outs behaved that way. In the 2000s, there were still sub-cultures that thrived because enough straight guys did not burrow away in cyberspace. Now, even the would-be cool guys have totally given up and chosen digital opium dens and pod life generally.
These changes in male behavior must be affecting some related changes in female behavior, like the rise of bi-curiosity among girls, particularly over the past 10 or so years. It's not lesbianism, as though they were giving up on guys altogether. Lesbians are no more common than they were decades ago, but girls who say they're bi, or they've experimented now and again, or they think girls are really hot, etc., have become a substantial minority.
Female sexuality is more malleable than male sexuality, so perhaps the drying up of "guys who are willing to show up" has led a lot of girls to adapt their attraction to those who actually do show up, namely their fellow girls. You don't get rewarded for hiding yourself, ignoring the opposite sex, and taking zero risks, insulated by porn girls who trick you into thinking you've already got sexual options.
If it's their fellow girls who are willing to put themselves out there, take the risk of rejection, and show some attention to the other attendees of public spaces, then it's their fellow girls who will get rewarded.
There's plenty more to say on this topic, and I'll add more as it occurs to me in the comments. To conclude for now, though, how about placing a rough date on the death of new sub-cultures? I think 2010 is a round enough number -- the whole emo/scene thing was still going into the early 2010s, but it had been born earlier. And the skater bros were still their own scene that lasted into the early 2010s (with clearly identifiable markers like the Southwestern geometric tribal prints, flat-brim hats, and other staples of the Ridiculousness look), but they too were born before 2010.
I can't think of any new sub-cultures after the scene kids, who got started back in the late 2000s. So it's not some recent cause, but one that unfolded over the previous decade. It's hard not to notice the coincidence with the Awokening of the 2010s that is still ongoing. Rising levels of polarization means that no group can hold together -- obviously not the entire nation, but not even either of the major parties, both of which are fraught by internal factionalism like never before. And perhaps not even a smaller-scale group like a sub-culture.
Still, the fact that guys have totally dropped out of sub-cultures, when they have not dropped out of other areas of life (such as politics), requires a separate explanation. It's not the #MeToo panic, since that only took off in the late 2010s, and the "boo men" hysteria has been over for a year now anyway.
It's not the rise of streaming platforms, video games, etc. -- technology adapts to social changes, not the other way around. If guys had no interest in shutting themselves off from the real world, Twitch and gamer-girl streamers would never have taken off the ground.
A more likely culprit is the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, which young people never recovered from materially, and which dashed their hopes of attaining a decent life for good. Maybe they waited to see if Obama's first few years would restore the youthful optimism and aspirational attitude of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s -- but by 2011 and Occupy Wall Street, they concluded that no, life is going to suck forever, so why fucking bother?
It's not so much the narrow superficial worries over "What if a girl I meet finds out I live at home at age 25?" Again, female sexuality is malleable, they'll adapt to that new reality -- especially since they themselves are living at home. It's the loss of a larger sense of purpose and meaning and direction and ambition -- might as well check out for good, then.
You might be chuckling at the thought that alt sub-cultures would be so affected by dashed career ambitions, as though their members could never become careerist as they matured. News flash: all the hippies sold out, all the punks became yuppies, and the scene kids wanted to eventually suck from the corporate teat in Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Belonging to a sub-culture when you're young is orthogonal to your material goals for later in life.
We would only expect to see sub-cultures escape unscathed from the ongoing crisis of circa 2010 if their members were mostly anti-materialist. They'd hardly welcome the news of "your job will suck forever, if you have one," but they'd get over it by escaping even further into their sub-culture, which does not require high income in order to take part.
But most people -- including would-be members of a sub-culture -- are materially minded, and get more than a little bummed out when material security is finished for the forseeable future. It takes such a gloom-and-doom toll on them that they don't even bother showing up for other social-cultural activities like forming and maintaining a cultural group -- whether that's mall goths, the local church, or their neighborhood civic associations.
Girls, however, are not so fixated on being a material breadwinner for their sense of purpose and self-worth. So despite also recognizing how screwed over they and their male counterparts are always going to be, it doesn't weigh them down to the same degree. They still have enough energy to direct toward social bonds, including sub-cultures.
What remains to be seen is how they'll adapt to the awareness that sub-cultures going forward are going to be almost exclusively female. Will they accept it as better than nothing, maybe become bi-curious according to the trend, or will they figure it's not worth the hassle if it's going to be such a hen party all the time? Certainly for now the doomer Zoomers are going with the former response, but that won't necessarily continue with future generations of girls. We'll have to wait and see.
February 27, 2021
What really stands out about the so-called sub-cultures today is the total absence of guys in general, and straight guys specifically. It's 99% girls, whether straight, bi, lesbian, or otherwise. There are a few token gay guys and trannies, but even those demos are mostly absent. Actual straight guys, though, have totally checked out of sub-cultural communities.
February 23, 2021
A series of info-graphics from the NYT shows where various TV shows from the mid-2010s were popular around the country, especially across the metropolitan vs. small town / suburban / rural divide.
(It's safe to click -- from 2016, before all media were hijacked by the intel agencies during the Trump admin and began spewing nothing but Establishment propaganda. Before then, they had occasional articles of interest about TV shows' regional popularity, the history of "fuck yeah" Tumblr blogs, etc.)
At the bottom, the map for The Vampire Diaries shows a fairly even popularity across all geographic divides, but it was still a bit more popular outside of cities. And certainly more popular in heartland regions, particularly in Mormon land.
The article notes that most shows involving the supernatural were more popular in the non-metropolitan areas, as opposed to big-city faves like SNL, the Simpsons, or Game of Thrones (palace intrigue being most popular in the power center of the Bos-Wash corridor).
Aside from hit TV shows, blockbuster movies like the Twilight franchise (whose creator is Mormon) were stereotypically more popular in flyover suburbs than in coastal megalopolises.
We can rule out levels of taste in these differences, since the typical city-slicker (but not the flyover suburbanite) consumes flavorless dreck like the post-'90s SNL, the post-'90s Simpsons, Sex and the City, the Real Housewives franchise and spin-offs like Vanderpump Rules, and so on and so forth. Metropolitans don't go to The Met, they're too busy binging garbage on Netflix (just a different flavor from the Netflix bingers in Indiana).
It's a genre difference, regardless of taste level -- supernatural and paranormal stuff is more popular outside big cities, and slice-of-elite-life fare is more popular within cities.
But what I really found interesting about these differences is their adherence to the laws of gay vs. lesbian culture -- gays having metropolitan tastes, and lesbians having non-metro tastes. I've discussed this general point before, but did not know about this case.
Having devoted more study to lesbians over the past year, I already knew they were big fans of Twilight specifically, vampires, witches, the occult, Tarot cards, etc. But I didn't know how distinctly non-metropolitan those interests were. I'd heard allegations of there being a witchcraft scene in Brooklyn -- but those must mainly be hicklib transplants bringing their flyover tastes into ground zero for metropolitanism.
The setting for supernatural fiction has almost always been in the country rather than the city, but I thought urbanites would still have a taste for Gothic material despite living as far away from the setting as possible. But no, they're too absorbed in they gay striver palace intrigue bullshit.
And as those NYT maps show, I don't mean "gay" generically -- Sex and the City, the Real Housewives, etc., are both distinctly urbanite and distinctly gay -- not lesbian (despite one of the Sex and the City actresses being a lesbian IRL).
This is also not a difference between men and women, as though men were drawn to Game of Thrones while women were drawn to Twilight. Urbanite women love Real Housewives and are bored by vampires, while non-metro men are drawn into supernatural or paranormal narratives, while finding Real Housewives insufferable.
This is another example of the social-cultural divide between "girls and gays" vs. "lads and lesbians". "Girls" meaning high body count, urbanite, fast-living, and so on. "Lads" meaning low body count, non-metro, slow-living, and so on. Straight guys in the former being degenerate, straight girls in the latter being wholesome.
It's also another wonderful example of lesbians resembling peri-menopausal women (whereas gays are stunted in the 5-year old stage of "ewww, girls are yucky"). Not only was Twilight popular in flyover suburbs, it was an unexpected smash hit with housewives who were finished with their reproductive career. See this contemporaneous review from New York Mag of the "Twilight moms" phenomenon.
Middle-aged women were not into Twilight because they were horny cougars lusting after the young heartthrobs -- at their age, they're done being horny, and of course lesbians are always post-horny.
Incidentally, the only time I've overheard a gay guy referring to Twilight was in a Starbucks during the height of its popularity. He was at least 40, and was remarking how hot the male "eye candy" was to the female barista. She, being around 30, said "Nah, that's a little too young for me to be eye candy." His reply in the most flaming low-pitched voice possible: "Candy is candyyy..."
Rather, the housewives interviewed in the late 2000s said it's the focus on courtship and eventual pair-bonding, as opposed to hookups with randos, that makes the vampire stories compelling, as well as the small-town setting where everyone knows one another. Exactly in line with lesbian tastes, and the polar opposite of gay tastes (promiscuity in an anonymous city).
I'll probably break down and watch the Twilight movies when I find them cheap at a thrift store, not only to better understand lesbians but also a big chunk of late 2000s culture that I found cheesy (and probably still would). For now, I've found the first two seasons of The Vampire Diaries for a couple bucks on DVD, and the first season so far is entertaining enough.
I suspect it'll be better than the Twilight movies because the cast includes the entire small town, adults as well as high schoolers, whereas I think the focus in Twilight is mostly on the angsty teens. It makes the drama more interesting, as the different age groups are both acting in their own social circles but also must bridge the divide with the other age group, since the supernatural problem is targeting them all.
It's like Twin Peaks in that respect -- another show I'm sure is more popular with lads-and-lesbians than with girls-and-gays. Certainly the Julee Cruise dream-pop soundtrack resonates more with lesbians than gays.
February 19, 2021
The cute little olive-skinned alt-girl sending me that "I'm lost, help me" stare from behind eyeliner winged all the way out to her hairline must've been a MENA baddie, such a perfume explosion all over the sections of the thrift store where she was browsing. No clue what it was, but loaded with amber, other intoxicating wonders, and a distinct base note of ovulation pheromones (yes, you can tell).
Why are they always so skinny, too? Such a heady, overpowering aroma exuding from the hardly-there-at-all body of a waif. It makes the experience all the more disorienting because she's not a vampy voluptuous sex bomb who you'd expect from the strength of the scent.
I guess it's one of the few ways they have to overwhelm your senses, when you otherwise might not even notice their presence. Like they're wearing a dynamite vest for self-defense, being too weak to throw punches, wield a knife, or pull a trigger. Just push a tiny little button, and BOOM.
Just a few delicate spritzie-spritzies from their perfume bottle, and BOOM.
* * *
The only other alt / goth girl I've known who always wore a comet of perfume trailing behind her was also an eastern Meddie -- my Turkish co-worker at the checkout desk of the library in college.
When we had to re-shelve books, I could always tell she had been on that floor before me, by the dizzying cloud of amber that wobbled my knees without warning.
Aside from being a cool chick who was easy to get along with, her overwhelming scent eventually made me lose self-control, and I broke down and wrote her a poem in a style I knew she'd like, that was apropos (the Oyster Boy book by Tim Burton). Something like "The Girl With Whirlpools For Eyes," about an alluring but eternally lovelorn girl whose hapless suitors never quite make it out of the infatuation and courtship stage alive -- I know! But I couldn't come to my senses after they'd been so thoroughly overloaded by her perfume.
Carefully hand-wrote it in a streamlined Medieval font, drew a Burtonesque illustration to accompany it, and even learned how say "for you" in her language -- "senin için" -- from another Turkish friend, for when I presented it to her. I'd never seen that demure little gothette smile so wide and bright before, bubbling over into carefree ecstasy as all her insecurities evaporated in an instant. "Desirability status: official. Awesome." She was a different person after that.
I asked out and hit on a lot of girls in college, but never her. She was just as cute, and definitely cooler than, the typical one I'd asked out -- but she was meant to play the role of mind-possessing muse. And I don't know how others are, but I never fall in love with any muse whose presence I wander into. Falling for someone is meant to further along processes that are sublunary -- dating, mating, pair-bonding, family-raising, and so on. Being possessed is meant to serve some higher purpose and not include yourself in the reward.
I recently got curious and googled what she's up to these days, and of all the metro areas in the world, she's found her way into mine, over 15 years after we graduated. And she's already raising at least one child, who she absolutely adores. She must have shed the goth get-up just after college, since the only "old" picture of her shows a smiling free spirit.
You never know when those bold moves that feel so cringe to outside parties are actually going to end up saving someone from themselves, from their miserablism. It will help them break out of their doom-and-gloom shell, and before long they're confident and comfortable out in the real world.
"I can save her," but only to ultimately set her free. I think that also means not getting in contact again -- we've already played the roles in each other's lives that we needed to. Trying to force a reunion, even just to "touch base," would be superfluous and threaten to ruin the completeness of our relationship.
February 17, 2021
I've been casually watching some of the popular Twitch streamers since the end of last summer, when hang-out places were shut down and when the platform became taken over by a non-video-game video game (Among Us), inviting those of us who aren't video game junkies to pay attention. (It's more of a board game or party game.)
I've mostly watched Pokimane, Talia Mar, and Wolfabelle, who are all good at Among Us, whereas others I tried to watch weren't that good at it or didn't say much to their audience. That game involves 10 players at a time, so I've become familiar with dozens of other streamers who have been regulars in the same lobbies as Pokimane and Wolfabelle.
And then there's Twitch's sidebar of popular streamers currently doing their thing, which I've clicked through now and again just to see who else, and what else, is big on the platform. I don't watch compilations on YouTube of streamers, but I do occasionally click on suggested brief clips.
So while I don't know who the indie / obscure ones are, or what tiny sub-cultures may exist, I've got a decent overview of what the scene is like.
One of the most striking things about Twitch, especially compared to the best platform for content today -- TikTok -- is the total absence of lesbians and lesbian-themed content. They both use an audio-visual medium, they both focus on "slice of life" and hobbies and lifestyle themes. They're both dominated by people born in the late '90s and afterward (creators and audience alike). They both eschew social-cultural conservatives. So what gives?
It's not that there are no homos on Twitch -- seemingly a majority of the guys are gay, whether openly or closeted or actively bearded by the female streamers. (Since the stakes of celeb status are lower on Twitch than in Hollywood, though, the gay and his beard barely keep up appearances, and the gay will even "jokingly" flirt with the other guys present.)
There are trannies and other male gender-benders, not to mention furries, among the popular accounts.
And a fair amount of the girls are bi or bi-curious.
But actual lesbians? Nowhere to be found. Some may be hiding it, and lesbians are not flamingly obvious like gays are, but their presence is nearly invisible compared to that of gays, trannies, and bi girls.
It's not that lesbians are shy online -- they're all over Tumblr and TikTok, and are visible to a lesser extent on YouTube and Twitter.
Twitch is an extreme case of being by and for the "girls and gays" crowd, which includes the fast-living and more degenerate straight guys who are looking for the fast-living straight girls who prefer gays as their bffs. Bi girls are closer to gay guys than they are to lesbians (fast-living, promiscuous, wild-child types). There's very little of the "lads and lesbians" crowd, which includes the tradwife-sympathizing straight girls who are looking for the more wholesome and slow-living straight guys whose interests overlap with those of lesbians (home cooking, arts & crafts, outdoorsy activities, etc.).
The only one who's pinged my lezdar is Talia Mar, who is bearding a more popular gay streamer. Pokimane and Wolfabelle are both bi or bi-curious, though. (I know: "you're not bi, you're just a girl born in the late '90s.)
By far the main category of content on Twitch is video games, and that means a more juvenile crowd. The main difference between gays and lesbians is the direction of their developmental life-stage disorder -- gays are stuck in the 5 year-old boy stage (ewww, girls are yucky), whereas lesbians are already in the peri-menopausal stage (ugh, sex? let's just move in together and cuddle).
Naturally lesbians are less interested in juvenile pursuits like video games, so they mostly avoid a platform centered around them. That goes for the "lads" in the lads-and-lesbians group as well. Juvenile pursuits will attract gays, bi girls, and immature straight guys, and that's exactly who makes up the Twitch population.
The other major content category is titty streamer (rarely, a booty streamer). It doesn't matter if she's playing video games, cooking, lounging by the pool, dancing, working out -- the point is showing off her body and getting thirsty guys to give her money somehow. I'm still unclear how they make their money -- through donations on stream, using the stream to advertise their Only Fans account, etc. But the few times I've given these channels a view, the name "Dubai" has popped up several times, so I assume some are using it as the front-end of a yacht girl escort service.
Lesbians, being peri-menopausal, are post-horny and don't resonate with these thinly disguised appeals to desperate horniness. It's not just that the target audience is male, and lesbians are female -- bi girls are fascinated by girls who are dancers, fitness trainers, strippers, and the like, and would most definitely make out with them or more. But then, bi girls are not peri-menopausal like lesbians, so they still have a strong sex drive. Mainly, though, the target audience is immature straight guys, for whom this is like the Victoria's Secret catalog to a middle schooler, letting them feel less pathetic than if they consumed outright hardcore pornography (and less severely punishable by their parents).
I'm not sure Twitch could start promoting streamers who could expand the audience to include lads and lesbians, since its branding is so extreme in the "immature urbanite bugman pod-life" direction. The streamers and their chat non-ironically and approvingly refer to themselves as degenerates and degens. Lads and lesbians would want to see somebody stream activities taking place outdoors -- having a picnic, going on a camping trip, gardening, vintage-hunting at thrift stores, etc. Or if indoors, something homespun and craftsy rather than outsourced and mass-made -- cooking, sewing, home maintenance, car maintenance, etc.
By now, the Twitch brand is entangled with the various food delivery app brands, which prevents home cooking -- one of the most appealing activities for the lads and lesbians group -- from becoming a major content category. You're supposed to tap your phone and wait for a foreign slave to deliver your overpriced fast-food bag, not transform affordable raw ingredients into a finished meal using kitchen tools. (Twitch bugmen won't even fry their own eggs or brew their own coffee.)
I don't think live-podcasting would make a difference either. Sure, lesbians have takes like everyone else does, and dish them out on take-based platforms like Twitter and YouTube. But streaming for hours on end, on a regular basis? That's way too chatty and gossipy and spotlight-seeking to appeal to lesbians. Just like the recorded podcast and the daily talk show formats, it would be far more dominated by gays than lesbians.
Observing their near total absence from the most bugman-branded podlife platform has only solidified my view of lesbians as the most wholesome and respectable of the non-hetero population. And likewise my view of TikTok as the coolest platform out there right now.
February 15, 2021
It's happening, lads and lesbians -- and on Blogspot, no less. :) It was always the cooler of the two majors (interesting people on Wordpress were rare, it was more for pretentious types).
Here there's nothing of the claustrophobia, anomie, disease, and cacophony of a densely packed cyber-metropolis like Twitter. No junkies strung out on takes, no vagrants squatting in your mentions, no peeping Toms hate-reading your feed. The population here is more modest in size, comfortably spread out, tightly knit, and trusting of one another.
Welcome to the otherworldly ruins of the blogosphere, Aimee, the ideal place to indulge your Gothic / Romantic side.
* * *
I'll post further thoughts & suggestions in the comments as they occur to me, but for now, that itself is my best advice on how to format your blog. More structured ideas on a common theme in the main post, and updates, tangents, ADHD content in the comments section. That will keep the number and flow of posts digestible, while also allowing for variations, riffs, and other forms of expanding on the basic theme.
Almost no one will actually post in your blog comments section these days -- they'll go to a large-scale reacting platform like Twitter, Reddit, etc., where they hope their half-baked and kneejerk takes will garner more likes from the larger user base, and give them enough dopamine to stave off suicide for another 15 minutes. So it's better to use your own comments section for secondary content, and the main post as the primary content.
Word count doesn't matter either -- it's a cope to say blogs are longform while tweets are shortform. Blog entries can be just five paragraphs, while tweet threads, feeds, and podcasts go on endlessly. The real difference is structured (blogs) vs. unstructured (social media), and again you can use your own comments section for the less structured stuff (or make an open thread post).
Still, if you've already got a decent-sized following from social media, you should encourage or bully some of them to comment on your blog posts, even if it's just a few words. And especially if they have a decent following of their own. It would be a bigger "get" for Genie to make an appearance in your comments section, than an egg with a dozen followers.
If you get writer's block at first, you could always mine your content from the social media accounts (including non-electoral stuff, like the horror of commodifying surrogacy). By the nature of the platform, it was never super-structured. Now on a blog you can put it all together (perhaps across a series of posts), and express yourself better as well. Plus, if you're coming to blogs because you were censored off of social media, re-writing your old stuff as blog posts will preserve what would otherwise be erased.
One final stylistic suggestion -- your iconic avatar near the top of the page! It's just not an Aimee Terese outlet without it. That's the only branding the site needs. Or perhaps a pic of yours from circa 2008, if you want to recreate the blogosphere's heyday.
* * *
I'm writing this all at length in public, rather than privately, just in case anyone else wants to get off of social media, but still express themselves online, and would like a few pointers and encouragement (Heather Habsburg, Alison Balsam, Caroline...).
If enough people join, you all can resurrect the blogroll -- a sidebar of links to other accounts and sites to explore. This curated list was more trusting and intimate and rewarding than some algorithm of "similar items" -- what if you want to send your readers to a place unlike your own, but which you find worth following?
Machine learning can never replicate that behavior, since it can only pattern-match. It can tell you which others are like you, but you can do that already. However, among the vast swath of the universe that is not like you, it has no idea where to guide someone who was originally interested in your neck of the woods.
It occupied the sweet spot between, in social media platforms, the retweet (too narrow and brief to be a lasting stamp of approval) and the following list (too long to navigate dozens or hundreds or thousands of endorsements). All of a sudden, there's a sense of community among the refugees of the social media apocalypse.
January 30, 2021
"Girlfriend" by Rebecca Black: Reconnecting-with-ex bop for both "girls and gays" and "lads and lesbians"
I don't mean to blog so much about new music releases, but it's hard not to when we're finally out of the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle and its sleepy-weepy mood.
As the restless warm-up phase continues, people are more inclined to come out of their shells and reconnect with others. That includes reconnecting with the one that almost got away, as I detailed in an earlier post about reconciliation anthems that define the restless phase (e.g., "Nothing Compares 2 U" or the new "Driver's License").
Except those are more confessional, heart-on-their-sleeve pleas to reconcile a relationship that had gone sour. What if it didn't crash and burn, but the two just drifted apart? There's no wound to heal, just a lightbulb moment of awareness -- "y'know, we really should get back together," and then feeling in an upbeat mood once again.
"I mean jeez, what were we thinking being apart?" -- it's more of an informal, low-key, friendly vibe, because the two of you never became enemies first. You feel reassured and secure after resuming something that had been suspended. It's a much less melodramatic tone than if your relationship had gone sour, you were going insane apart from them, and now you have to fight like hell to win them back. Much more of a groovy mood.
That's the variation on the theme in the free-spirited bop "Girlfriend" by Rebecca Black (yes, from the fad hit "Friday" from 2011, all grown up):
Celebrating about "I'm getting back with my girlfriend" is such a lesbian theme, because they stay friends with their exes and flirt with reconnecting every now and again. As opposed to the (high-body-count) girls and gays, who can't even remember half the people they've been with, let alone care to reconnect. The long-term pair-bonding drive is more of a lads-and-lesbians thing.
But despite the lyrics being from the lads and lesbians, the music itself is infectiously bouncy and danceable, suiting it more to the girls-and-gays crowd, who prefer dance clubs over skate parks for hanging out. The song as a whole is an interesting mix of both ends of the homo spectrum.
The main instruments are synths, appealing to girls-and-gays, but it's not just to provide dance-y hooks -- it goes into a very long solo, appealing to normie straight guys, unlike most electronic dance music. And her vocal delivery is joyful and upbeat, avoiding the melodramatic or abject styles that appeal to girls and gays (in a torch song context). The obvious comparison is to early Katy Perry, but it's also somewhat like Taylor Swift's peak era, which combined lesbian lyrics (from herself) and gay dance music (from her gay collaborator Jack Antonoff).
The music video also captures both ends of the spectrum, with her playing an on-stage diva / showgirl role in one part, and an outdoorsy picnic-haver with a bashful gf in the other part.
(It's nice to see her high-relief Mediterranean features fully developed now -- it gives her a more striking persona.)
I interpret these all to mean that she's bisexual, not lesbian. As fast-living types, bisexual girls are clearly on the girls-and-gays side, not the slow-living lads-and-lesbians side. But clearly some lesbians had a role in inspiring or creating this song, because it does act like a bridge between the two sides (an assertive bisexual girl singing about getting back with her bashful lesbian gf). I haven't heard many songs in this hybrid style, and it does not fall flat for not picking a clear side stylistically. I listened to it at least 10 times in a row at first, it's so catchy and bouncy.
Finally, it's worth noting that she's a late '90s birth, born into a manic phase of the excitement cycle, and imprinted on another manic phase (the early 2010s) during her second birth of adolescence when she turned 15. That makes her a candidate for being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which her appearance is clearly aimed at achieving. But her role in the song is not a MPDG, which is an earthly guardian angel who coaxes love-weary people out of their shells, enabling them to accomplish their full potential in love and life. She could pull it off in a different song, though.
People born in a manic phase imprint on a zeitgeist of invincibility and resilience, making them naturals at coaching others to pick themselves up after failing, not to doubt themselves, and so on and so forth.
An earlier post showed that lesbians are not MPDGs, although bisexuals might be. Lesbians are too reserved and passive to assume the initiator / lead role, which the MPDG plays to lift up the sad-sack guy who can't bother trying anymore.
Bisexual girls are much more willing and comfortable making moves, taking the lead, and so on, so they could certainly be MPDGs to love-sick lesbians (who, in their characteristically peri-menopausal state, resemble the middle-aged sad sack men of the MPDG movies). Especially if the bisexual girl were born in a manic phase, like the late '90s -- and seemingly a majority of girls born then are bi-curious at a minimum.
Anyway, lots of potential for interesting new forms that the MPDG role could take in today's restless warm-up phase, which is far more permeated by alphabet-mafia concerns than the most recent one in the late 2000s.
January 28, 2021
"Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap: The difficulty of choreographing to ethereal yet stirring-awake music
A previous post looked at the vestiges of this trend into the following restless warm-up phase, when people are just coming out of their slumber and beginning to get their bodies moving again. See the links there to earlier posts on dream pop's 15-year cycle in both the indie and mainstream worlds. Usually there's just one or two dream poppy songs in the warm-up phase, and they tend to have a bit more rhythm and beat, now that people's needs are different and they need to get moving around after waking up.
The examples I cited were from the year-end Billboard charts, and included "Say It Right" by Nelly Furtado for the late 2000s. But there was another song from that phase that exemplifies the pattern even better, although it did not make the year-end charts (it did make it into the top 40 of the weekly Hot 100 chart):
"Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap (2005)
This is rooted in the zeitgeist of the early 2000s vulnerable phase, which produced mainstream dream-pop songs like "Only Time" by the New Age queen Enya. Here, the a capella places all of the droning layers of harmony onto the vocal line, but it doesn't sound any less floaty and dreamy for want of instrumental droning layers.
Unlike the early 2000s, however, the zeitgeist of 2005-'09 produced a song with greater range in pitch and melodic meandering, more building up and releasing of tension within a measure and over the entire song. It's more like someone who is stirring awake, and working themselves up into heightened activity levels -- not someone who's merely floating through a dreamscape or wallowing through a heroin-like daze.
And there's a clear break in the iconic line ("Mmmm whatcha say?"), where a more insistent rhythm erupts. This makes it more danceable, just like the other dream pop vestige songs, only it's a human voice rather than a drum kit that marks the beat. Still, that adapts it better to a warm-up phase zeitgeist, when people suddenly come down with dance fever.
Out of curiosity, I wondered "has anyone danced to this song before?" It's a capella, dreamy, highly lyrical, not heavily rhythmic until the final section -- it's just what the interpretative dance crowd would be into. And indeed, there are dozens of videos on YouTube showing individuals up through large troops performing to it.
Yet most of them suffer from a choreography whose movements are overly explosive for this low-key, nuanced music. And most of the rest suffer from the opposite problem -- low-energy and languid movements, but without the tension coiling up and ultimately exploding in the final section. I'm not talking about the technical proficiency of the dancers, but the program they're given to work with by the choreographer.
Songs like "Hide and Seek" are a real test of intuition, since the stereotype of interpretative dance is being overly exaggerated, random, or inappropriate in relation to the music, which then feels like it has no relation to the body movements. Music and dance are too intertwined for that dissociation to please the audience. You can search YouTube for "dance hide and seek" to see what I mean, as there are too many to link here.
At the other end, the choreographer is too nervous of the dance coming off as a stereotypical wild-and-crazy performance that's out of touch with the music, and opts for muted, limp, and slow movements throughout.
This song requires both a languid and passive component, to show the dream-like state from which the singer is stirring awake, as well as a more energetic and assertive component, to show that she's somewhat uncomfortably stirring awake rather than continuing to slumber on in dreamy bliss. Fluid, limp, and soft -- both coiling in tension and releasing it -- then explosive, taught, and hard.
There ought to be a good deal of "floor work" -- kneeling, crouching, sitting, laying down, etc. -- to suggest the horizontal posture of sleeping, dozing off, or languishing in a daze. But also punctuated by periods of erect posture, to suggest the stirring awake process that gets you solidly on your feet and moving around with purpose.
Of the many videos I checked, this improv dance by Jasmine Wright is by far the best, as the comments attest. The only complaint that the trained dancer commenters had was "too much floor work," but again they're missing that it's necessary for this song. It's not supposed to be a display of movements that dancers and dance audiences like in general, but a reflection of the particular mood of the specific music she's dancing to.
Choreographing a group of dancers to such an intensely lyrical and personal song is a daunting task, and the only good example I found was this performance from the University of Waterloo Dance Company's Acro Group. Like the solo improv above, this one features lots of floor work to convey the languid mood, but also moments of coiled tension (naturally suited to acrobats holding a pose), with the explosive movements saved until the final section, including a perfectly timed tumble to the "Mmmm whatcha say?" line.
So far, there are only a handful of videos on TikTok using this song, but it's apparently a fave for dancers, so it could do much better, especially since there's the late 2000s revival under way.
It's a credit to Imogen Heap for making an ethereal a capella song that the most corporeal people on Earth cannot help but move their bodies to. It's not the typical disembodied, floating-and-swaying dream pop song, but one for stirring awake and finding your footing during the restless warm-up phase of the excitement cycle. It's no wonder it was heavily sampled in the R&B hit "Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo, also from the dance-crazy late 2000s.
January 26, 2021
As shown in this TikTok trend. The theme is "low maintenance is key," and the audio says that she's simple -- all she wants is someone to squeeze her butt and tell her she's pretty. Not anything boob-related. Nope -- squeeze her butt. A lot of the women make a point of showing off their butt, sometimes squeezing it themselves for good measure.
The women run the gamut in age, sub-culture, attractiveness, etc. They're all butt girls, though.
There was also that meme from a few years ago about a low-maintenance gf -- "touch my butt and buy me pizza". Not "touch my boobs".
Butt girls, being more corporeal, are more down to earth, simple tastes, low-maintenance, easy-going, accept people for who they are rather than try to custom-order a hyper-specialized bf through tweaking the search filters on a phone app.
Cerebral boob girls, whether they admit it or not, are higher-maintenance. Definitely more neurotic. More highly specific tastes, at any rate more stubborn in their cut-offs, requirements, and "red flags" (itself a red flag for her). Looking for Mr. Perfect, however they define it -- trying to optimize or customize their search through the results of the mating market.
Score another one for the butt girls. Easy-going, accepting of limits, adapting to reality, pragmatic, feet-on-the-ground, while still having a romantic streak (not to be confused with stubbornly clinging to standards that are too high for your mating market value).
Naturally lesbians fall under the low-maintenance butt girl group. They're easier to get along with, no matter who you are, even if you're a guy friend / colleague / etc., or a Platonic straight girl friend.
But also including romantic relationships -- they're so easy-going about it that they stay friends with their exes, nowhere near the level of drama as in the "girls and gays" group.
That must've been a key factor behind Taylor Swift's low-key persona, all while she was a pretty, young, pop superstar. Her inner lesbian wanted to be a relatable girl-next-door type, not a neurotic picky diva. It wasn't just to appeal to suburban demos, flyover states, or ordinary normies. It was also the lesbian drive to be low-maintenance and laid-back.
January 23, 2021
TikTok videos of girls experiencing "gay panic" show that lesbians are bashful and coquettish when they're around someone they're attracted to -- very feminine. Another nail in the coffin of the "lesbians are masculinized" theory.
Homosexual syndrome is not about a person's sex-and-gender qualities, but about what unusual developmental stage they're in. Gays are stuck in the "ewww, girls are yucky" stage of 5 year-old boys, while lesbians are like peri-menopausal women.
That's why even the teen / early 20s lesbians on TikTok are more inhibited than their peers, when they see someone hot. The typical horny youth thing to do would be cranking up their attention-seeking behaviors, or outright pursuing the hot person. Yes, straight girls do that too at that age, not just straight guys.
Lesbians, though, go the bashful route -- fluffing their hair, making eye-contact, etc., but in a less conspicuous way, and in a less sustained way. It's not the full-on assault that a straight girl would direct toward a random hot guy.
Rather, "gay panic" -- really, lesbian panic -- looks like a spinster librarian who's just become the object of flirtation from some random hot bibliophile. Or a schoolteacher when a random hot dad flirts with her at the PTA meeting, or a buttoned-up married-with-children suburban housewife when the random hot delivery guy smiles and cracks a few jokes with her.
There's a horniness underneath, but it's muted when it reaches the surface, and the self-aware shocked expression conveys the sense that it's out of character for her to be feeling so distractedly horny. "But I'm a librarian / teacher / housewife..." Likewise, "But I'm a lesbian..." She's not supposed to feel that horned up, as a woman in a peri-menopausal state. She should be close to checking out of horniness for good.
And so, "gay panic": the initial jolt of horniness, the panic that she's not supposed to be feeling that, and then the inhibition to dial down its overt expression to make it more socially approved for a woman in a mature, rather than adolescent, stage of development -- bashful and coquettish, not wild and lusty.
Why do lesbians have to be so adorable?
January 22, 2021
Over the past month or so, I've noticed a disturbing relapse to the anti-social norms that governed public places about 10 years ago -- constant phone usage, not saying hello to strangers, and putting as much space as possible between themselves and others. Those trends had all but gone away by 2019-'20.
Hopefully this is just a temporary thing, perhaps caused by their anxiety over the instability of the national government -- when/if the dust settles, maybe they'll act more normally and less paranoid / cocooning.
Whatever the reason, they're really seizing on the coronavirus excuse to turn it into yet another tiresome status contest for aspiring or actual elites. Strivers can never stop striving.
First, it was the conspicuous wearing of masks in open-air spaces with few people around, like the walking path around a park. And not even in an otherwise densely packed neighborhood. Like, in the suburbs. Masks do nothing health-related in such a setting, but they do allow strivers to compete over something novel -- who can adopt the most paranoid mask-wearing norm? Almost no one was wearing masks around the park before a month or so ago, despite everyone complying while indoors at retail stores, etc., so this is a very new shift.
But now it's going beyond just the masks, which have a low ceiling for how far out of control the competition can spiral. Wear them indoors, in the outdoors, and maybe in your car -- and that's it, end of contest. However, "social distancing" only has a minimum, not a maximum -- you can always keep just a little bit further away from the polluting bodies clogging up the public space you've unfortunately found yourself in.
Again, this shift is very recent, within the past month. Before, two people walking towards each other on the path might not have veered at all, or at most they'd move to either border of the path. Now I'm seeing people veer all the way off the path to tread over the grass (or mud or snow). And it's become a contest, with some moving just off of the path, others moving several feet off the path, and others charting an alternate course altogether, like at a 45-degree angle, as though to escape a vortex that had suddenly opened up before them.
Naturally I do not reciprocate, and I veer as far toward them as possible while still staying on the path. They expect me to play the game and see which one of us can micro-dehumanize the other more, but homie don't play dat. I'd rather spook them if they're going to act so anti-socially in public. I should dry-cough on my way over to them, for bonus points.
A variation on this pattern is while you're walking down a sidewalk, and some other pedestrian or jogger takes a conspicuous detour to the street-level asphalt, or (less commonly) to the other side of the street. Not in a dense urban core, but in a suburban neighborhood where we're the only two people on the entire block. Get real, striver dork.
One very refreshing exception to the rule is young girls. It's primarily women in their 30s and older, or perhaps some in their late 20s who have just aged poorly and I can't tell, who are polluting the public atmosphere with their anti-social distancing behavior. And it's not just to compete over yet another aspect of daily life, but to convince themselves that they're still so desirable that the other pedestrians on the path that day are actually suitors hot on their trail.
In reality, as a random hot guy, I would be the one to veer away from them, but I'm not an anti-social striver retard, so I do not. It's always the plain ones past their prime who attempt to build up their self-esteem in this way -- imagining that attention exists, in order to reject it.
With younger girls who are still cute and at or near their prime, it's just the opposite. They're not sure whether or not I'll give them attention, so they're curious and put out their feelers. If I give them attention, they accept it gratefully -- omigosh, i'm not ugly or invisible after all, if random hot guy looked back at me!!!!
Like the older women, they too are suffering from depleted validation reserves under the lockdowns, but their response is pro-social rather than egotistical -- taking the risk of putting themselves out there in public, hoping to feel a mutual feeling with someone else.
This stark difference really hit me last night when I was walking around a park, and in the distance I saw a pack of bouncing pony-tails heading toward me. It was one of the high school girls sports teams out jogging laps. Based on young people's behavior in other places, I didn't expect them to act anti-social and veer off the path, and sure enough they kept right on track.
In fact, they were standing 3 abreast the whole time, not shrinking into a single file to put maximum distance between us. I didn't have anywhere to go toward or away from them on the path, so they all but brushed against me as they passed. As they got close, their voices started raising, and they got all smiley and giggly. I made eye-contact with as many as I could, maybe 2 or 3, but there must've been 10 of them total -- sorry I couldn't validate you all. (I sincerely mean that: I want to reward them for taking the risk, and not demotivate them.)
And of course none of them were wearing masks outdoors -- and hide their smooth, supple, glowing skin, or their lively curious expressions? Yeah right. They don't want their cuteness to go to waste.
I'm sure they're all taking part in other striver contests, but at that age it's mainly about getting into the highest-ranked college -- studying, doing extracurriculars (like sports), and so on. They're not in the same social environment as their parents, so they don't take part in the same status contests that they do. Really the only overlap is food -- teens and college kids learn how to complain about food, while their parents are leaving five-paragraph sub-par ratings on Yelp. Or taking pictures of their better-than-yours meal to upload to their Instagram feed.
It's impossible to teach small children to wash their hands, because they don't have a strong disgust sense at that point. That makes them vectors of disease. But even when they've adapted to hand-washing, it's impossible to teach teens and 20-somethings to anti-socially distance, since they have such a strong instinct to at least be near lots of other people, whether or not they're directly interacting with them. They can't stand being totally physically isolated. This nature is making them vectors of disease, with their age group showing the highest growth rates for coronavirus, and with zip codes in college campus areas showing the highest density of cases.
If your public health plan requires toddlers to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands, then the society is fucked. Likewise if it requires teens and 20-somethings to stay holed up in their room alone for years on end. Their human instincts are too strong to tame with lockdowns etc. It will have to be a top-level plan that protects those below, such as closing borders and rolling out a vaccine (if it would be effective).
So far, our parasitic and fractured elite class has largely failed to execute the only realistic solutions, so they will increasingly start to pass the blame onto those who are helpless at the bottom, and who cannot be relied upon to solve the nation's problems anyway. "Those selfish horny kids just can't keep it in their pants and skip house parties for their entire college years, and that's why their grandparents are dropping dead" -- not because the government refused to seal the borders shut during a pandemic, or roll out an effective vaccine on time.
January 20, 2021
Just a little placeholder post before more in-depth analysis of the shifting political landscape.
Because Trump's finale of the Reagan era was terminated artificially through election theft, and not through an organic realignment of the parties and voters, the current admin is an uneasy interregnum before true realignment occurs and ushers in a new era. Everyone but the most out-of-touch libtards can sense the instability during this supposed "end of our national nightmare," which everyone knows is only just beginning.
The dread and anxiety is still there, because the decapitation of Trump and the GOP has only left a power vacuum, which all sectors of society with even an ounce of life left in them are going to wage war in order to fill. That is no less true on the left half of society, who are just as fractured as they were less than a year ago, during a bitterly divisive primary.
Indeed their divisions and lack of enthusiasm were key factors in their defeat at the ballot box. Rigged elections can win the struggle for power between parties, but cannot force unity on the factions within the winning party. Now they all know that the only reason they won was the urban machine elites stuffing ballot boxes, and the intel agencies hijacking social media platforms.
So there will be no spoils doled out except to those entities -- not to the still apathetic Millennials, let alone Zoomers, not to the Bernie bros and babes, not to Independents, not to private-sector labor unions. And crucially, not to any non-white ethnic group other than those in the top of the relevant sectors -- Talented Tenth blacks in Democrat machines, Brahmins in the intel agencies and their social media appendages, but not Hispanics, nor most East Asians.
Libtard elites aside, everyone could use a little resilience music today. It's another visit from a Manic Pixie Dream Girl fave, Avril Lavigne, from the last restless warm-up phase of the excitement cycle (late 2000s). Not that it matters so much, but it's a relief to see her not wading into politics throughout the entire electoral cycle -- not during the BLM / Antifa riots, not the general election, not the inauguration, or anything else. One of the few in the entertainment sector to not have sullied her purity by politicizing her material.
Here's looking to another free-spirited nurturer born in the early '80s manic phase, Tulsi Gabbard, as we enter the downward spiral of this anarchic interregnum.
January 15, 2021
So many of the ongoing themes of this blog going on here in the new music video by Pale Waves --
Everyone recognizes the Avril Lavigne influence, but it's hard to place when. The sparse instrumentation and mellow vocal energy during the verse is like her songs from 2002-'04, but then the chorus explodes and soars, and it no longer sounds like the early 2000s at all. The tone is way too uplifting and feel-good to belong to the bummed-out early 2000s. More like "Smile" from the early 2010s, and the non-pop-punk song of hers from the late 2000s, "Keep Holding On".
The "mellow verse, intense chorus" contrast is characteristic of the restless warm-up phase of the excitement cycle, when people need to be shaken out of their slumber and forced to get moving. During the early 2000s, it was a refractory phase, and most people wanted to grumpily lay in bed under a protective pile of blankets after the alarm clock had gone off. So it's more like a song from the late 2000s or the early '90s. Something between "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls and "Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morissette.
I immediately thought the lads-and-lesbians crowd would love this one (not so much the girls-and-gays crowd, who likely find it sappy and corny). Sure enough, the singer is a lesbian. They love singing about love, and bonding to just one person, much like their lad counterparts who have a low body count, sensitive nature, and preference for cozy intimacy rather than abject copulation. The cozy groypers from Twitter, and the cottagecore girls from Tumblr and TikTok.
tfw no wholesome goth lesbian bff
But that crowd is painfully awkward at the flirtation and mating-dance-ritual stage of interaction, so their music is not very dance-driven or club-located. One of the funniest things that lesbian TikTok showcases is their inability to take the physical initiative even when they're literally face-to-face. Their foreheads are touching, they're putting on their best seductive eye-narrowing gaze, and yet neither one can bring herself to give the other the slightest peck on the cheek. Lesbian bed death, before they're even in bed. Not because they're avoidant, though -- they love cuddling and all that other intimate stuff. It's adorkable.
The setting for the music video is straight out of cottagecore Tumblr or cozy groyper Twitter as well. In contrast to gays, lesbian aesthetics are consciously anti-metropolitan -- like gays, they live in a densely packed urban shithole, but unlike gays, they pine for a return -- or at least a regular respite -- to a pastoral, idyllic environment. This is true for the music videos of the other singles from their upcoming album Who Am I? ("Change" and "She's My Religion").
After all, intimacy and pair-bonding is not possible in faceless urban cores, while anonymous promiscuity is. And so, cities are magnets for gays and high-body-count girls, but lesbians only converge there reluctantly to find each other, and would rather retreat to a charming small town once they found a gf or wife.
One final impression: the Pale Waves singer was born in the manic phase of the second half of the '90s, a cohort who are starting to stand out more in pop culture (especially as Twitch streamers). Not really the chaotic wild-child type born in the restless phase of the early '90s, and not the sad-girl type born in the vulnerable phase of the early 2000s -- they're more happy-go-lucky, emotionally resilient, and socially autonomous / healthy attachment style (preferring company, but neither clingy like the restless phase births, nor avoidant like the vulnerable phase births). They remind me of my fellow early '80s births (including Avril herself), who were born during a manic phase.
However, they're likely going to grow to resemble those born during another manic phase -- the late '60s births, who turned 25 in the early '90s, which the current zeitgeist is going to resemble more than the late 2000s or the late '70s (all restless warm-up phases). This is because a full cycle alternates between a high-energy and a low-energy state, and the 2005-2019 cycle was high-energy, so the cycle that's just begun in 2020 (and lasting through 2034) will be a more chill and laid-back cycle overall, just like the 1990-2004 cycle.
But the late '90s girls are a topic for another post.
January 11, 2021
"Driver's License" by Olivia Rodrigo: The confessional reconciliation anthem signaling end of refractory phase of excitement cycle
At the end of 2019 I explored a type of song that appears at the transition between the refractory phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and the restless warm-up phase that follows. It's part of the broader zeitgeist of the end of "don't approach me" hyper-sensitivity, and coming out of your shell to reconnect with others, especially the opposite sex.
The lyrics are confessional in tone, reflecting on a past relationship that went bad. But unlike a typical torch song, where the singer is mainly mourning their loss in solitude, here they're making a bold direct address to their former lover, proposing to reconcile and to renew their relationship.
The music is mostly dream-pop -- layers of droning and sighing voices, whether human or instrumental -- which prevails during the previous refractory phase, when people are only in the mood to float through an ethereal expanse by themselves. Now that the mood has changed, and people are getting restless, there's a greater desire for melodic hooks and a driving beat, in contrast to the focus on harmony and a languid beat during the vulnerable phase.
Also like the other examples, the key is major, rather than the minor-key tonality that prevails during the preceding vulnerable phase, suggesting a turn toward the hopeful now that people are no longer in a refractory state.
Read that post for a fuller analysis, and for links to earlier discussion of dream pop's role throughout the excitement cycle.
The major examples are "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt and "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis from the late 2000s, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor and "One More Try" by Timmy T from the early '90s, "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore and "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright from the late '70s, and "I'm Sorry" and "Break It To Me Gently" both by Brenda Lee from the early '60s.
I predicted this type of song would see a new example in the early 2020s, as this phase transition takes place again. They aren't very numerous, but they're so recognizable and distinctive of their era, that they don't have to have dozens of examples. You'll identify it immediately upon hearing it.
Sure enough, the other day YouTube recommended me a trending music video for "Driver's License" by Olivia Rodrigo, and I instantly knew this was the one for the current restless phase. It's rapidly taking over streaming platforms globally, so like the other examples from similar phases, it will be one of the defining songs of the early 2020s.
Overall it's most similar to "Nothing Compares 2 U," although closer to "You're Beautiful" and "Bleeding Love" in minute stylistic details, due to those two coming from a more recent restless phase.
Lyrically, it's different from a torch song in directly addressing her former lover, proposing to reconcile not only their past troubles, but also to move beyond the fact that he's found someone new in the meantime. She's making an offer to revive their relationship, not just whine and mope alone about her heartbreak, the rejection, etc., which belong in the past.
Musically, it's defined by layers of droning and sighing voices, both instrumental and human, and an overall feel of floating through emptiness, as in a dream. And yet unlike a typical dream pop song, the vocal delivery is neither languid nor hyper-sensitive / distancing. It's earnest, bold, soulful, and sending itself off on a melodic rollercoaster during the chorus.
The beat is also not the typical plodding rhythm of vulnerable-phase dream pop -- it starts with no percussion, then introduces a skipping-rhythm clickity-clack, adds a persistent marching-step or running-rhythm bass drum during the second verse, and a backbeat during the second chorus. That development is more like stirring awake from a dream and getting your body moving at the start of your day, not continuing to sleep or lie in bed under a pile of blankets in a heroin-like daze.
The vocal takes on a percussive role as well during the peak line of the chorus -- "I guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me" -- where you can feel the force on each of the stressed syllables. There are two unstressed syllables before the stressed ones, giving it a galloping rhythm and adding to the impression of not sleeping or laying around, but single-mindedly advancing toward a target to confront them.
The bridge is the most purely dream-pop section, and by itself sounds like it could have come from the late 2010s. That has the effect of making their past feel more dream-like, mellow, and ideal, in contrast to the somewhat painful awkwardness of stirring awake and trying to reconcile and restart their relationship in the present, which characterizes the other sections of the song.
After the hazy dreamy bridge, you may be yearning for a dramatic pay-off, both to complete the rising physical tension developed throughout the song, but also to satisfy the lyrical theme -- resting assured that their reconciliation and renewal is going to be a smashing success. But that's not where they, or we, are at right now in the 15-year excitement cycle. The singer is just stirring awake, and making a bold proposal seemingly out of nowhere. It will take a little while for the other side to process what's going on, and for both of them to figure out the way forward.
So the resolution has to be a low-key subsiding of tension -- the pause after a bold proposal as one side awaits the other's response, not the dissipation of that tension altogether. The fact that it's only a pause means there is still unresolved tension, and it leaves us yearning -- but that's precisely how this process feels, before the other side has had time to think it over and respond. It's not like a cliffhanger ending in a TV series that is never followed up on, so we don't feel upset at the less than 100% resolution. We recognize that that's just how this process goes, and we'll have to wait somewhat anxiously to see how the other side responds.
This is an instant "lads and lesbians" classic, to touch on another recent theme around here. Definitely not for "girls and gays". Not only pining for an ex, but actually contacting them to revive the relationship because you two were meant to be together. I have no clue whether Olivia Rodrigo is a literal lesbian, or one of the straight girls who fits in with the L&L crowd. Heavy channeling of Taylor Swift hints that she's not just a spiritual lesbian, though.
At any rate, glad to know that we've reached another milestone in the transition out of the #MeToo refractory phase, and into the restless warm-up phase. Like the other examples from the past, I doubt this will go down as one of the best songs of its time, but its role is more than aesthetic -- spurring forward the nascent process of coming out of your shell, after holing up during five years of hyper-sensitivity.
January 1, 2021
Oh, just reflecting on the passage of time while moderately buzzed on New Year's Day, and of online culture in particular (where increasingly more of our "interactions" take place, sadly). Remembered the craze of "fuck yeah Tumblrs" circa 2009-2010, before they invented hashtags, and each theme had its own Tumblr account.
In effect, the character string "fuckyeah" served as the tag-marker before the theme's name -- no different from the # symbol, just a bit longer and more earnest and over-the-top and quirky, like everything else of that time.
See the WaPo's early retrospective on the phenomenon, from 2015.
We're going through a late 2000s revival now, so why not take this up again? It's worth reviving for nostalgia value itself, but also to archive things that have been otherwise erased from the public record since the 2010 heyday. And also to celebrate things that were not the object of celebration back then -- like online culture.
In 2010, the "fuck yeah" topics were all offline (pizza, the Glee TV show, etc.). With so much culture creation and consumption taking place online, there's a need for a whole new class of fan-based micro-blogs.
fuckyeahheatherhabsburg.tumblr.com -- how is this not taken? We could also ask that about the woman herself. :)
It's harder to preserve online culture, compared to other media, because so much now is on platforms whose accounts can be privated, deactivated, or suspended, and their whole history just vanishes in a puff of digital smoke.
You'd have to rely on second-hand copies of the long-lost original...
Don't make us do it, Heather and Alison, just reincarnate as a blog and your posting career can be public without getting piled on by toxic retards (simply moderate your comment section).